SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Cornerback Lorenzo Doss seemed to get his hands on the ball more often than some of the Panthers’ receivers during his first offseason with the team, conservatively estimating that he had four or five interceptions this spring.
But with one practice left at his first Panthers training camp, Doss is still looking for his first interception.
Well, that’s not what he’s truly looking for.
“I’m having a great camp. I’m not worrying about the interceptions at all,” Doss said. “As long as I continue to get my hands around the ball, my hands on the ball and keep tight coverage on the receivers, I’m good.”
Doss was the darling of a defense throughout the spring that harped on taking the ball away, and early in training camp his fellow defensive backs goaded him on to keep the momentum going. The takeaways haven’t come his way so far.
“Part of it is that people know – quarterbacks know, receivers know. It changes sometimes once you get to know who you’re competing against,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “He’s still making plays; he just hasn’t had a chance to get his hands on the ball and catch it cleanly yet.”
Sure it would be nice for Doss to make the highlight reel, but that’s something he’s done before. At one of his training camps with the Broncos, Denver’s fifth-round draft choice in 2015 nearly recorded double-digit interceptions.
What he hasn’t done, since college, is record interceptions when they count.
“Anytime I’m on the field,” Doss said, “I feel like I’m about to make a big play.”
But Doss hasn’t been on the field. In two-and-a-half seasons, he played just 88 snaps for a loaded Broncos’ defensive backfield, 70 of them coming in two games midway through the 2016 season when Aqib Talib was injured.
Midway through the 2017 season, the Broncos waived Doss.
“I got cut on Thanksgiving – ruined my Thanksgiving. No, it didn’t really ruin it. I got the call to Buffalo like two days after,” Doss said.
The Bills signed Doss to their practice squad, but between major holidays – on December 30 – a rash of injuries to wide receivers led the Bills to dump Doss. Less than a week later, when NFL teams were allowed to sign street free agents to future contracts for the 2018 offseason, the Panthers pounced.
“It was a tough decision. Buffalo wanted to keep me, but I wound up choosing Carolina because there’s something special here,” Doss said. “We’re trying to win it all.”
Doss has already won it all. He won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie with the Broncos in 2015 – at the expense of the Panthers and right guard Trai Turner, his teammate at St. Augustine’s High School in New Orleans.
“We always talk about that. He wants one so bad,” Doss said. “We’re able to laugh about it. He tells me he’s happy for me. Now I’m trying to win one here.
“I love this team, love this organization. Everyone has shown me love since I’ve been here. The Carolina Panthers definitely deserve a Super Bowl.”
But first things first for Doss, who is battling to make the 53-man roster in a crowded cornerback room. He recorded 15 interceptions in three seasons at Tulane and feels he possesses the kind of ballhawking skills this defense covets, but he’s got to make the team before he can make it onto the field and make a difference when the snaps and the stats truly count.
“I was able to learn from the greats in Denver, and now I’m playing with greats here,” Doss said. “I’ve just got to continue to contribute what I can to the team and make plays when I’m called upon.”